Degree Show Project

In September of this year, I began my Degree Show Project. At the beginning, I wanted my project to be a commentary of Northern Ireland as a place, delving into how the country’s past has affected the current residents.

We began drawing in our first week back. I had taken photos, while at home, of textured surfaces. Many of the surfaces were wearing away; beginning to crack and erode. These surfaces were showing signs of many layers, which were being exposed underneath areas of wear.

The photos below show my starting points for drawing material.

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Naturally Curated Colour

Creating a Still Life Colour Palette

At the SDC Scottish heat (2019) we were able to take part in a workshop. The workshop fit perfectly with the Competition theme, ‘Colour and Nature’. We were tasked with creating a still life colour palette by designer Emily Mae Martin. She talked brilliantly about her work, focusing on sustainable slow fashion and natural dying techniques.

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Artist Statement for ‘Colour and Nature’ Project

‘I See the Sea and the Sea Sees Me’

 

When presented the brief of ‘Colour and Nature,’ I initially thought of shells as a theme because of the beautiful contrast of neutrals and bright colours that are present in many different shells. Something that also interested me initially when focusing on shells, is the different textures which I could explore through drawing and mark making. I have collected shells on the beach for years, gathering them on the basis of my favourite colours and textures.

My colour theme came from the mainly neutral tones in my initial drawings, combined with an iridescent blue. This type of blue, which I used as my accent colour, came from the lines on the Blue-Rayed Limpet shell. I came across different types of biomimicry in shells, but found this shell had the most interesting explanation, especially for it’s colour. The blue lines are used by the shell, as a decoy. Predators of this shell mistake it for a poisonous snail, and subsequently it is left alone. The lines on the Blue-Rayed limpet are only visible because the shell material in those areas, which reflects the blue spectrum of light, while also absorbing the other colours.

Sustainability is an important aspect to any project, and I researched it from the beginning. I focused on finding a sustainable material that reflected that aspect of my project, and came across Seawool. It uses a mixture of crushed mussel shells and recycled plastic bottles, then it is spun into thread. The benefits of this product include qualities such as natural insulation, it is wrinkle free and it naturally stops odorous bacteria from growing.

When interpreting my sketchbook work into a knit outcome, I focused mainly on lines and texture. My outcomes represent a compositional body of work, looking at the shapes presented in my sketchbook and placing them strategically into my knits. I like to treat my knit samples as an extension of my sketchbook, almost as if I was simply completing another page.

When thinking of a final outcome for this project, I took time to reflect on my love of being by the sea, and collecting shells. I decided to use this project as a reminder of how serene and happy I feel while by the sea. It is the place where not only myself, but many people find a true oneness with nature. I decided to create a line of socks adorned with motifs of my deigns, serving as a reminder of the seaside. The socks would allow me to physically ground myself in the place I feel the happiest. Comparing the soft flow of the knit through my fingers reminded me of the feeling of soft sand my toes. This is thought is where the beginnings of my concept designs truly came from.

‘Colour and Nature’ (PT3)

Beginning to Knit

I have the began the process of sampling. Taking my drawings exploring colour, shape and texture to the material.  I have began to see how each piece can be developed further, onto a better and more finished sample. Discussed incorporating more bright colours; using them as accents to the neutrals.

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SDC ‘Colour & Nature’ Competition

Initial Drawings

We were invited by the SDC to explore the theme of ‘Colour & Nature’.  The brief asked us to consider: how we see colour, light, natural versus synthetic, natural dying, sustainability, biomimicry and what inspiration we can take from nature.

I chose to focus on shells for my project. Shells remind me of youth, collecting them on the beaches on the North coast. It was this personal memory that made me choose them.

For these images below I used my own collection of shells as references. While drawing, I focused on line, texture and subtle colour at this point. These drawing were interesting images to develop from.

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Verdant Works Embroidery

Our class brief was to create a wall hanging inspired by Verdant Works, Dundee. When we visited the textile mill I drew from the vast drawing subjects that was available around me. The machinery is so detailed, it was interesting to draw. I then focused mainly on developing imagery from the round textured cylinder. The textures and motifs I created from drawings were then formed into a compositional panel.

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Quick sketch with Quink ink.
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Textured drawing
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My embroidery layout and plan.
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My full panel in the centre.
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Close-ups of the embroidery.

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How does the use of prototyping and story telling help designers make personal connections between their work and their consumers?

Storytelling can spark a personal cord within a consumer, as it is the “interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.”(Storytelling.design, 2018). In both a visual and personal sense, consumers can be intrigued by a designer and their work. Visually stimulated by the work, as it can bring back personal memories. Storytelling can also bring the consumer on the artist’s own journey, through the body of work that they have produced. Whereas, prototyping more inherently works directly with, and based around, consumers in order to create a product. Prototyping insures that the best model for the product is made. Designing with people in mind insures that the product will have a personal connection.

Design can be somewhat personal to the user, or viewer of a product. This personal element felt towards design is undeniably important. When a piece of design sparks a cord within you, it can lift spirits and makes you feel special. Serious importance should be placed on “the excitement that comes when something touches a chord, reawakens the memory, or pleases the eye” (Conran, 2002). This experience also highlights the importance of “aesthetic and spiritual dimension” (Conran, 2002).

‘Transitions’ by Mickael Boulay, a project which won the BRAINS Award in 2011, was created in collaboration with a physiotherapist in order to assist in everyday living. These cutlery sets aid the development of impaired motor skills by working through a series of steps. The steps range from “organic objects” (designboom, 2018) which are easier to hold, and then onto refined shapes. The project description titled, ‘Can we grow the motricity of a disabled hand step by step?’, shows that the designer is working towards bettering the things which surround us. A designer should not only strive to better living, in terms of function, appearance, cost and material, but “also in terms of aspiration and desire, in the dream of how life might be.” (Conran, 2002). I believe that, ’Trans- itions’ perfectly illustrates this ideal.

Prototyping and storytelling link together in the design process, as prototyping is a unique tool which can be used in order to tell the story of your work. Engaging the consumer with preliminary ideas for a final product can show the designer the narrative of their product.

A major part of story telling, especially for textile designers, is shown through the materials and processes we use. I think storytelling on the basic level of changing what materials designers use, and why, is critical in showcasing the change of time and development for that particular de- signer. Textile designers often change or modify their processes, an example being the current environmental strain. These decisions become a part of a unique design journey. This decision identifies the artists passions, and inevitably makes for a more personal connection with consumers. These are small moments, where in designers are taking action and affecting the world around them. Designers who have the ability to coherently describe their personal process, have created a “compelling reason for collectors and admirers to invest in their work” (Artrepreneur, 2018).

Storytelling can also be imbedded throughout designers work, used as a tool to physically tell stories through the chosen medium. This idea is highlighted in Dear Data, a “personal documentary” of two information designers. The way in which both Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, could figure out an illustrative way to be both personal and intriguing, in order for their partner to ponder the information they received, highlights the importance of storytelling in their work. This process in itself makes a personal connection with consumers, as Dear Data shows how differently story telling can be interpreted. By “spending the week noticing” (Dear Data, 2018) and telling a little story of every day, the artists became more personally aware of surroundings, taking time to reflect for themselves. This use of self reflection, as a designer, is incredibly important as we should be processing the information that circles around us daily. Dear Data has inspired me to be more thoughtful about my own processes.

Story telling can also be taken in a literal sense, taking stories off the pages of a book and translating them onto textiles. “Confessions and the Sense of Self” are works by Noël Palomo-Lovinski. It is a project which highlights the use of storytelling translating into a textile product. The project started after Palomo-Lovinski noticed that public confessions had “become increasingly popular in our society as an outlet for individuals to expunge guilt, share personal tragedy, or express secret desires” (Kent.edu, 2018). She took quotes from confessional websites, as the bases for a

narrative. Then, interpreted these words using a variety of textile mediums for the production of the final garments. Through the act of reflecting on the world around her, this designer came up with an unusual and thought provoking narrative for her designs. This use of storytelling makes her work more engaging for consumers, making special and direct personal connections.

My personal specialism is knit. Discovering my personal specialism, has been a journey of figuring out my personal design story and what I enjoy doing. It is the nature of knit as a process; the craftsmanship, the time that is put in, and the finished pieces which led me to choose it. The story of knit in itself has intrigued me. I think that through these processes involved, the final products will be made more intriguing and enjoyable for consumers. Story telling within design can be interpreted in different ways. However, I personally wish to incorporate the idea of using it as a process to reflect on my journey as a designer. But also to use the processes involved in storytelling as a way to reflect on the information which goes on around me daily. To inherently make my designs more thoughtful. I want to push my own design processes further into a more meaningful place.

 

 

Bibliography

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Kent.edu. (2018). CONFESSIONS AND THE SENSE OF SELF: WORKS BY NOËL PALOMO- LOVINSKI, 2003-2009 | Kent State University. [online] Available at: https://www.kent.edu/museum/ confessions-and-sense-self-works-noël-palomo-lovinski-2003-2009 [Accessed 25 Mar. 2018].

Artrepreneur. (2018). Why Storytelling is Crucial for Artists. [online] Available at: https://atp.orange- nius.com/storytelling-for-artists/ [Accessed 21 Mar. 2018].
(Artrepreneur, 2018)

Diva-portal.org. (2018). [online] Available at: http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:528574/ fulltext01.pdf [Accessed 21 Mar. 2018].

Storytelling.design. (2018). Storytelling.design. [online] Available at: https://storytelling.design/sto- rytelling [Accessed 21 Mar. 2018].

Lupi, G., Posavec, S. and Popova, M. (n.d.). Dear data.
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Conran, T. (2002). Terence Conran on design. London: Conran Octopus.
Vitsoe.com. (2018). Good design | About Vitsœ | Vitsœ. [online] Available at: https://www.vitsoe.-

com/gb/about/good-design

designboom | architecture & design magazine. (2018). cutlery that aids dexterity transitions by mickael boulay. [online] Available at: https://www.designboom.com/design/cutlery-that-aids-dexteri- ty-transition-by-mickael-boulay/

Duvall, A. (2018). The Importance of Storytelling in Design. [online] Speckyboy Web Design Maga- zine. Available at: https://speckyboy.com/the-importance-of-storytelling-in-design/ [Accessed 23 Mar. 2018].

Sloane, S. (2000). Digital fictions. Stamford, Conn.: Ablex Pub. Salmon, C. and Macey, D. (2010). Storytelling.